marzipan chocolate bars
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A layer of homemade marzipan sitting on a meltingly soft shortbread biscuit, stuck together with a whiff of raspberry jam; all thickly coated in milk chocolate. And what fun to make!
It all started with Ritter Sport marzipan bars revival. Scratch that – it started before that, with a sizeable chunk of marzipan languishing in the freezer (yes, marzipan freezes very well, at least the homemade variety), left over from the glorious Battenberg. I meant to do something with it, only couldn’t come up with the right idea.
Then – Ritter Sport. If you don’t know them, Ritter are a German brand of chocolate and before you make a sarky comment about Germans not being world-renowned for their confectionery, they are very good indeed. Completely forgotten through half my adult life, I was recently reminded of the brand and boy, how it took me back! Strawberry Yoghurt, White + Crisp, Cornflakes or Whole Hazelnuts – they can keep all their Mars and Bounty bars if I get a Ritter Sport.
To put the long story together, that’s how these bars came about. Marzipan enrobed in chocolate with a finger of biscuit inside, just because there was a Ritter Butter Biscuit too.
Ritters regardless – and I am not sponsored by them or paid in kind, regrettably - this is a hugely fun activity as, to be honest, anything involving dipping in chocolate is. The biscuit is a little softer than shortbread, more French than Scottish; the marzipan absolutely must be homemade and you can take your pick of the chocolate: dark for sophisticated palates, milk for everyone and white for those who like it sickly with sugar sprinkled on top.
Chocolate does not have to be tempered but it’s sad to see it going from glossy to dull and shineless as it sets – which is what will happen unless you temper it. Very briefly: melt it in the microwave or over a double boiler to the point when about a quarter is still in solid chunks. Finish the melting process off the boil by stirring vigorously until the chunks dissolve. Then the most important point: hold your horses and wait with the dipping until the chocolate is almost cold; that’s what ensures gloss and shine.
marzipan chocolate barsServings: makes 12 barsTime: 1 hour 40 minutes
- For the shortbread:
- 200g (1½ cup) plain flour
- 35g (1/3 cup) icing sugar
- 100g (7 tbsp.) butter, cold and diced
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp. crème fraiche or soured cream
- For the marzipan filling:
- 110g (1 cup and 1 tbsp.) ground almonds
- 120g (1 cup) icing sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- juice squeezed from ½ lemon
- 1 tbsp. raspberry jam
- For the coating:
- 200g (7 oz.) cooking milk chocolate
1. To make the shortbread stir the flour with the icing sugar then rub in the butter with your fingers or blend it in a food processor, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and cream, and knead it lightly until the dough comes together. Shape a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
2. To make the marzipan stir the almonds with the icing sugar, add the egg yolk and stir it vigorously with a spatula or briefly whiz in the food processor, adding lemon juice; the marzipan should be soft and pliable. Set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Roll out the pastry into one or two (whichever easier) discs about 5mm thick. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and jab all over with a fork. Return the pastry into the fridge for 10 minutes if it warmed up a lot while being rolled, then bake for 15 minutes until set but not coloured. Cool on the parchment on a wire rack.
4. When the shortbread is cold, trim the edges to a rectangle shape; my two disc were trimmed to 10x12cm each. Roll out the marzipan to matching shape, also 5mm thick; you may have some left over. Spread a little jam over the marzipan and cover with the shortbread rectangle; press gently to stick.
5. Using a serrated pastry or bread knife, cut 12 fingers 2cm wide and 10cm long, or similar. Chill in the fridge while you temper the chocolate.
6. Break the chocolate into small pieces into a shallow plastic or glass bowl. Temper it in a microwave: set the timer to 3 minutes. Microwave at full power but pause every 20 seconds to stir the chocolate energetically with a spatula. When only small pieces remain solid remove the bowl from the microwave and stir until it’s completely melted and smooth. Continue stirring until the chocolate cools down to room temperature – when used too warm, it goes dull after setting.
7. To coat the bars, prepare a sheet of parchment or a wire rack and two forks. Turn each bar in the chocolate to coat, then fish it out with the fork, tap excess chocolate against the bowl and place the bars on the parchment. You can swirl a pattern with a fork on top of the bars before the chocolate sets.